It has almost been a month, three weeks exactly, since I embarked on my first real road trip, and what better way to do it than in Australia. We packed our bags just after Christmas in Brisbane, and set off to Sydney, to Melbourne and then to The Great Ocean Road, before travelling back to Brisbane on Sunday morning, stopping off at locations we missed on the way down.
It has been an experience, to say the least. Overall we have travelled up and down the East Coast of Australia – approximately 3106 miles altogether. That’s like driving from Manchester to the South of Spain and back, further than driving to Southern Greece or driving from Manchester, to Malaga, to Croatia whilst driving through seven different countries, and 10 major cities – London, Paris, Lisbon, Madrid, Barcelona, Monaco, Milan, Venice, Ljubljana to Zagreb.
And even though we have seen some incredible things, I’m so happy that I’m posting this from a room in Brisbane which I’ll be settled in for a month. I’m sick of bread and butter, McDonald’s and chocolate for tea (I can’t believe it either), and moving from accommodation to accommodation became draining, especially as most places were in the middle of nowhere and more than 6 hours a part with very basic facilities. Toast just doesn’t cut it anymore…
Me and Jack have put together a bumper guide to everything we learned along the way of our first ever road trip. From accommodation, hydration and music, here is everything you need to jot down.
The Tips and Tricks
Buy A Cooler Box – this may be the most important thing we had purely for the food, there was one point where we were worried that we could have food poisoning because we hadn’t properly cooked some chicken and the thought was unbearable – so keep your food cool.
Water – this is the main thing you need to survive in life, right after oxygen but don’t worry there should be plenty of that on any road (lol). Even if you feel that you’re not going to be travelling far, sometimes trips last much longer than you may have first calculated so take plenty (around 8 litres minimum) – it’s cheap and easy to store. Some of our worst moments on the trip came when we ran short of water and were a bit dehydrated – imagine travelling for hours with a headache, tiredness and dehydration… it’s not recommended. We bought a large pack of water before we set off, and filled them up along the way.
Petrol – although you don’t need this for life you need this to move, fill up when you find somewhere cheap (in Australia we found that this was the case within a city – though there were places in between). If you have a SatNav, take advantage of the “near by” “petrol” function as it was very useful to find cheaper petrol.
Music, Podcast, Books – make sure you download an array of all three – some of the days we travelled, these were the only things that kept us sane. We had a 40 hour long playlist which we managed to get sick of as well as two days worth of Podcasts, and even these weren’t enough towards the last few days of the trip – so make sure you download plenty before you set off.
Silence – although this seems contradicting to the previous point, there will come a time where silence occurs, and when this happens just embrace it. Being silent, especially with a partner, doesn’t mean anything is wrong but when you’ve done nothing but drive around in a car together for around 3 days, it can be difficult to find 8 hours worth of conversation.
McDonalds – don’t eat it, stick to the ham and cheese sandwiches, we received some of the worst food ever from McDonald’s – obv. However for a caffeine or sugar boost this is often the best place to be. In addition, it’s also a great place to find WiFi to download more audio… or to permanently lend some plastic cutlery for your cool box…
Car Checks – the boring stuff, and perhaps something you should leave your boyfriend to do. Always check your car tyre pressure, oil, water, and everything that is vital to keep you moving. Don’t leave this until the last minute, do it a couple of weeks before you set off, and keep on top of it.
Chargers, Air Con and Windows – maybe not so much the first, unless you need to charge your phone when you are stuck in the middle of nowhere, but, either way round, make sure your car has all of these available. If you have charger you have a phone if you’re stuck, and if you have the other two you shouldn’t get too hot on your travels. Sometimes fresh air keeps you awake, and we took full advantage of winding the windows, not just for the fresh air, that’s good, but we had so many fun moments of driving around with the wind in our hair, music playing, and our incredible singing voices.
Rest– Jack did all of the driving as Australian roads scare me. Most of the time he wanted to get through it as fast as possible which is understandable. But make sure you are able to rest at least every 3 hours to take a power nap, grab some food and to stretch your legs. The better rested you are, the more you’ll enjoy your drive. If there’s two of you, work out a good period of time to pull over every two hours or so.
Accommodation – make sure you book this at least 3 weeks in advance, this way round you’ll get the nicest places for the cheapest prices. We left it until the last minute pretty much every time we needed somewhere to stay, and for this reason where extremely ripped off.
Enjoy Yourself – probably the most important tip – make the most of the trip. Make sure you have a laugh and embrace it. There will be worse day than others, but also some memorable moments to look back on. Remember what you’re doing, where you’re going and who you’re with etc, because chances are you will never get the opportunity to do it again.